Advocates for school bus safety, along with police, are reminding drivers to take extra care behind the wheel, and to remember the rules when a school bus stop arm is out.

“You can’t always expect that a kid is giving 100% attention. They’re children. So you as the adult, the one with the driver’s license, have to pay more attention. Driving is a privilege, not a right,” said an advocate for school bus safety, Pierre Ranger.

Ranger’s brother Adam lost his life 19 years ago when a vehicle tried to pass his school bus, despite its flashing lights.

Ranger is pleading with drivers to watch for kids crossing the street and to stop when a bus’s lights are flashing, and when its stop arm is out.

“Take extra time, be patient and stop for the school busses. That’s the number one thing,” added Ranger.

Furthering his message, he is now addressing the province with a petition advocating for stop arm cameras and yellow flashing amber lights on all Ontario school buses.

He says the amber lights would come on before the red lights flash, and that the idea is catching on across the country.

“Right now it’s all reds at the top of the bus, and it can be confusing for drivers. The 8-lamp system will make it simpler for drivers. They’ll know it’s just like a traffic light. Amber means that bus is about to stop, ‘I better slow down’, and red mean it’s stopped and you cannot cross it,” said Ranger.

North Bay Police say three drivers were charged last school year from September to June for illegally passing a school bus.

They say first time fines range from $400-$2,000, and that a second time offence could land you in jail.

“The safety of our kids is the paramount thing. We had a number of people that have called in a number of warnings that were issued, and we had three charges where people were taken to court and were convicted,” said Constable John Schultz of the North Bay Police Service.

Police say parents also have a role to play, and that they should be teaching their children to watch out for vehicles and look both ways before crossing the street.